June 9, 2013
This was my first triathlon of the season, and my second Half-Ironman.
I was intimidated. I only got one open water training swim this season (one week earlier…water temps in the high 50’s). The course information showed significant hills on the bike (about 1500 ft per the race director, almost 3000 ft according to my Garmin).
The race was brutal the previous year. Very hot and insane winds. Weather was uncertain going into race day. The day before the race was hot and not that windy. But severe storms were coming overnight (we were told that we could check the bikes race morning if we wanted too).
It was a long drive to the site. But I stopped at Arthur Bryant BBQ on my way. Yum!
The event was at a state park. Lots of hills just going from the park entry to transition.
Transition was in a campground. Many were opting to camp at the race site (not a great idea given the storms heading our way…). We had our pre-race briefing and I spent some money in the store. I drove the bike course and was able to get a practice swim (the water was very green, and the bike course was very hilly!)
I headed into town to carb up (Noodles and Company) and get to bed early.
The storms rolled in. It was a nasty night. I felt bad for the campers.
It was still raining pretty hard when I got up. I checked the radar, and it looked like the storms were clearing out. Gathered up my gear and headed to transition.
As usual, I was the first one there.
The sky was eerie. It was calm overhead, but lightning all around.
I checked the radar…just a few small lingering cells…and they were all moving out. Looked like clear skies. I grabbed my gear and headed to transition. This was a 2 transition race. I had never done this before. Gave me a little extra anxiety. I made sure that I had my bike-to-run gear in T2 first. Then I grabbed my bike, wetsuit, helmet etc and headed the 1/2 mile to T1. There was a small hill on the way. It was the only hill on the run course. It would look much bigger in a few hours.
Got to T1 and racked my bike, donned the wetsuit and got my gear set. I headed towards the start.
It was an in water start. There was no way for a warm-up swim. One wave would be at the starting line, the next would be wadding into the water. Everyone else was on dry land and waiting. Got to watch the pro’s start. Craig Alexander is a beast. Warren Hains wasn’t too shabby for a newcomer.
Finally was my chance to get in the water. Water was very comfortable with a wetsuit. The water was also very green and was kindof choppy as well (heard many complaining about this after the race, but it didn’t seem bad to me at all).
Horn went off for my wave. I found my stride and just got into the groove. Water was green enough that I could not see my hand in front of my face.
Swim was uneventful, and I got out of the water fairly fast.
Swim Split: 40:47
T1 was pretty uneventful until I was running out. There was a nasty crash between two people running out their bikes. One went down hard. I heard both bikes were damaged. Bummer…
T1 Split: 10:48
This is when the fun began. The bike leg is the clear highlight of this course. It is beautiful and very hilly. There was a good headwind heading out, making the hills all that much harder. Weather was warm and sunny. It was a good day to be riding.
When we hit the turnaround, the headwind became a tailwind (or crosswind depending on where you were on the course). The winds also became stronger as the day went on.
Mile 50 was the biggest hill on the course. It was the climb up to the top of the dam that we had to cross to return to T2. It was called the DAM(N) hill. Cute. The winds were against us at that point. I was passing others going 6 mph in granny gear. They had a sadistic photographer at the top. Also, a guy with a sign that stated “So, you thought Kansas was flat…”. Best sign of the day…
Over the dam and back towards transition. A few steep hills along the way, but I got there eventually.
Bike Split: 3:40:54
T2 split: 5:01
I was not looking forward to the run.
It was getting very hot and muggy. The course was 2 laps around the campground. Many loved the course. Most campers were triathletes, so there was a lot of crowd support. The main intersection would be passed 7 times…so great place for spectators. But, for me, there was no shade and kind of dull.
Aid stations were every mile they were needed. Ice cubes going down the front and back of my shirt and in my hat every chance I got. Made some friends on the run, but the miles were dragging by slowly…
At one of the aid stations, we had a couple of volunteers convinced that there was supposed to be a beer keg at that station for lap two. They even called in looking for it. This is the kind of thing that happens when the brain gets roasted and dehydrated on a hot race day (the volunteers were very good sports about it I must say… and they were great throughout the event!)
At the halfway point, it was hard taking the left fork for lap two. Harder still taking that little hill for the last time. I was going through more and more ice. Got back to the fork in the road and took a right and through the finish line.
Run Split: 2:28:53
Final Time: 7:06:23
Overall a good race. The bike is the highlight of this one. I would recommended to anyone looking for an early season mid-west 70.3.
On the was out of town, I grabbed another dose of Arthur Bryant beef brisket. It’s a good thing that I don’t live near KC!